Man visits animal hospital, suddenly becomes a patient

NORTHFIELD, Ill. —  The staff at BluePearl Veterinary Partners is trained to handle all kinds of medical emergencies for dogs, cats and other pets.  But this week they used that same training to help save a human life.

It happened on Monday, when a 59-year-old man and his family visited the Northfield hospital to check on the welfare of their dog, a 12-year-old golden retriever who had been coming to BluePearl in the past few months, most recently for complications due to a neurological disorder called myasthenia gravis.

After meeting with associate veterinarian Grace Brannon in the hospital’s emergency department, the man, who asked that his name be withheld for privacy reasons, collapsed in the lobby. When staff members rushed to his side, he was unresponsive and they could not find a pulse.

The staff and a helpful bystander leaped into action, starting CPR and calling 911. Brannon was alerted to the situation and ran to the lobby, where she began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

At that point, the man regained consciousness.

Dr. Grace Brannon

Dr. Grace Brannon

The staff administered oxygen, placed ice packs around the man’s body and cooled him with a wet washcloth. They brought out a machine designed to monitor animals’ vital signs and used it to measure his blood oxygen levels.

An ambulance arrived and took the man to nearby Glenbrook Hospital, where he was released after several hours of care.

Brannon said she was proud of the way her colleagues  sprang into action and worked as a team to save a human patient. It was inspiring, she said. But not completely unfamiliar.

“It’s not unlike what they do when we have an emergency with a pet,” she said.

“I guess I couldn’t have picked a better place to have an emergency,” the man said in an interview later.

The week was an emotional one for the family, for more than one reason. The family made the decision to put their beloved golden retriever to sleep.

“It was a very heartbreaking experience for us, but on the other hand I’m really confident that we gave him every chance we could have,” the man said.

He thanked BluePearl’s staff because “they really made us a part of the whole process.”

BluePearl’s staff expressed condolences for the family dog.